Craig Medred

The bears were here first. Let's start there. The archeological record indicates their ancestors probably arrived in the land now called Alaska at least 50,000 years ago. The first humans don't appear for another 35,000 or 40,000 years. It doesn't matter. There are no 40,000-year-old bears or 15,000-year-old people running around in Far North Bicentennial Park. There are some 60-year-old people who've spent their lives in Anchorage still using the park. If you want to get technical, they were in the park before any bear now alive. Thus, you could also argue the people were here first. Either way the arguments are a waste of time. They don't help in resolving the matter of what to do in the here and now. In the here and now, the Municipality of Anchorage has decided to give the Rover's Run...Craig Medred
The last time the world heard from Gerald Myers, he offered these words in the form of a text message: "OK, Moving up." The 41-year-old Colorado chiropractor was at 17,200 feet on Mount McKinley at that moment, according to the SPOT Satellite Messenger service. The time was 10:50 a.m. May 19 as recorded by SPOT. The device does not record the weather, but the National Weather Service reported conditions at high altitude that would be described as mild by the standards of North America's tallest mountain. The temperature was zero to 5 above, the winds around 25 mph but starting to pick up. Other climbers reported they would be up around 40 or 50 mph by evening. As the winds were building, Myers started climbing, never to be heard from again. National Park Service rangers say there are...Craig Medred
SEWARD -- The biggest winner in the Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament staged out of this Alaska port on Thursday was Master Sgt. Brent Johnson from Elmendorf Air Base, but there were no losers. Twenty-one-year-old Pvt. Charles Necessary from Tennessee, now stationed at Fort Richardson, caught only a single grey cod, yet remained as happy as could be on a day that started gray with spits of rain before the sun broke through a patchy sky. "I caught my fish," Necessary said. "I was coming out here to catch a fish. I caught a fish. It made my day. Mission accomplished." Along with Johnson and Necessary, about 400 other active-duty Alaska military showed up to enjoy a free day of fishing, thanks to the donations of dozens of Alaska businesses. Tournament organizers Bob Candopolous and...Craig Medred
After 20 years of enticing bears into a remote compound tucked away in a little visited corner of the Yentna River valley, retired Anchorage school teacher Charlie Vandergaw said last fall he was ready to end his bear-taming shenanigans. Filmmaker Richard Terry, the man to whom Vandergaw made the statement, didn't know whether to believe it. Now skeptical state officials have taken action to make sure it happens. They have charged the 70-year-old Vandergaw with 20 counts of illegally feeding game. Also charged were two friends accused of assisting him. The criminal misdemeanor charges, filed by the state Department of Law on Friday in Palmer, cover bear feedings from May 10 to Sept. 19 last year at "Bear Haven," Vandergaw's remote summer home north of the community of Alexander Creek...Craig Medred
Do the homeless defecate in the woods? Admittedly, this is not a pleasant question to ponder. Most of the thousands of runners, strollers, bikers and dog walkers who daily pass the homeless camps hidden in the city's greenbelts and parks would probably prefer to avoid even contemplating the issue. Until a friend started talking about his participation in the Anchorage Creek Cleanup earlier this year, I confess to being easily able to keep the environmental problems caused by the homeless far from my thoughts. But when someone familiar with environmental hazards expresses a belief that he and other clean-up volunteers should have been wearing biohazard suits, it gets your attention. Nobody knows how many homeless people there are in Anchorage, let alone how many are living in makeshift...Craig Medred
The carcasses of the freshly filleted salmon that anglers toss into the Russian River each summer to nourish the ecosystem have become to local bears what the dumps of Yellowstone National Park once were to the grizzlies of northwest Wyoming. Generations of brown bear sows, and some blacks, have brought their cubs to the popular, clear-water stream near Cooper Landing to partake of the ursine equivalent of some sort of free-food day at McDonald's. This summer, it's all going to end. Or at least a task force composed of employees of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others is going to try to make it end. Riverside fillet tables anglers once found so convenient for processing their catch will be gone from the Russian,...Craig Medred
Two months after a blizzard killed two dogs along the Iditarod Trail and threatened the lives of animals and mushers in several teams, the wounds suffered by the people who invest their emotional lives in dogs continue to bleed. Lou Packer, the musher whose dogs died, has had a lawyer send threatening letters to other mushers who suggested a more capable dog driver might have avoided the deaths. And Rob Loveman, a rookie musher removed from the race because he wasn't traveling fast enough, has protested his withdrawal as unfair and cited pressure on back-of-the-packers to keep moving as a possible contributing factor in dog deaths. "Jeff King didn't have to worry about being withdrawn if he turned his team around," Loveman said. "Lou Packer did. Given the arbitrary way the non-competitive...Craig Medred
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is going back to the future after the discovery that far more sockeye salmon are returning to the Yentna River than were accounted for by modern technology. Visual counts of sockeye returning to Yentna tributary spawning streams have for several years now found far more fish than were counted by a state sonar placed along the lower river. Fish and Game first responded by trying a new sonar. Counting accuracy wasn't much better. So this week the agency announced that after an "an exhaustive analysis of historical data," it is abandoning sonar in favor of counts from weirs near the mouths of Chelatna, Judd and Larson lakes. Sonar, it says, will continue to run to provide an index for how the run is progressing while commercial fisheries are under way...Craig Medred
Why is it so many seem to have forgotten the deal made 24 years ago when commercial fishermen were allowed to resume the killing of Susitna River king salmon? One would think that with king runs expected to be weak this year and angling on the Deshka River, one of the major producers in the Susitna drainage, severely restricted even before the season begins, someone would recall the long-ago words of the spokesman for the setnet fishery downstream. Here is what Stephen Braund from the Northern Cook Inlet Setnetters Association, now the Northern District Set Netters Association of Cook Inlet, told the state Board of Fisheries in 1985: "We'll be the first to go if there are not enough fish. We're not just trying to get our foot in the door and grow." There are not enough fish this year. And...Craig Medred
The climbing season on North America's tallest mountain has barely begun and already Mount McKinley has claimed its first victim. The National Park Service reported Friday that 61-year-old William Hearne died on the approach climb along the Kahiltna Glacier to the 14,000-foot camp on the mountain. The terrain on the way up to 14,000 feet is not overly steep, but the ever-increasing altitude from base camp at 7,200 takes a toll on even the most physically fit. Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin reported Hearne, of Fairport, N.Y., was with a guided expedition traveling near Windy Corner on Thursday when he collapsed and then died, apparently of natural causes. Windy Corner is named for the ferocious winds that sometimes develop there, but it is beautiful place when the weather is...Craig Medred